Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bicycle Law Revisions: (sub)Standard & 3ft Minimum

I recorded this quite a while ago and kept it private because I didn't like a bit of it. Today I watched again and my standards must be lower so I'm publishing it. The proposed laws I talk about are now REAL laws.

It's a narrated bike video journey on west 26th Street, Louise Ave and 41st Street. In it I demonstrate lanes that are wide enough to safely share and lanes that are not.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Day 10 of #30DaysOfBiking

Today's ride was adventuresome.

It was so bad, what usually takes me 25 minutes took 45!

The ice was thick, but really only the first 1/10th of an inch on the road matters.

I shot a Vine.

While I was stopped and posting it a dog walker approached. It was my city traffic engineer! He's managing a 24 hours a day crew right now. Sounds like traffic signals don't like the weather either. It's never bad to be a face for city officials to think of when they're thinking of road users, eh?

The bike trail surface proved more predictable than roads - which is to say for 20 minutes I rode knowing the slightest error would dump me on the pavement.

Still I averaged 10mph which is fast enough to actually get somewhere.

I saw two separate bike tracks - I was not alone.

Riding in this was extreme, no doubt. I didn't fall and dabbed a few times. The Pugsley tires are 4 inches wide and not studded. It's important to keep centered over the top of the bike. I don't expect to turn with any speed, not even small adjustments. Wind and cambered surface can push me in directions I don't want to go, but I accept that until I can scrub enough speed to make a course correction.

If the windspeed would have been more and the temperature less I would not have ridden.

Happy 30 Days of Biking. It really is joyful.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Substandard Width Lanes

South Dakota law says a rider can move from the right-hand curb or edge of roadway when the lane is substandard width.

South Dakota law defines a substandard width lane as a lane that is too narrow to safely share side by side with another vehicle.

The question at hand; what is “too narrow?”

Determining too narrow is more of an art than a science.

If the driver or rider is drunk, texting, sleeping, talking on the phone, or fighting with the kids in the back seat there’s not enough pavement in the world to make a lane wide enough to safely share side by side with that vehicle.

Speed plays a role too. It is much easier to share a lane side by side with a car going 20mph than a car going 80mph.

The ability of a rider to ride predictably straight also plays a role.

Let’s see if we can find an empirical width. In feet. Something we can put a tape measure to.

1. How many feet do you need to your right between you and the curb to feel like you’re riding safely?

2. How many feet wide are you?

3. How many feet do you need to your left between you and a passing car?

4. How many feet wide is a passing car?

Typically when these four numbers are added together you’ll get between 14’ and 18’. The bike safety experts I know will readily agree that a 14’ lane can usually easily be shared side by side with a car.

Fact: MOST South Dakota lanes are 10’ or 12’. So, which lanes are too narrow to safely share side by side by a bicycle and a car? MOST.


Here’s how I apply this to the way I ride.

I look ahead as far as I can see and pick the left most lane position that will afford me safe passage by any obstacles to my right. Most often it’s a parked car so leftward enough to safely pass if the car door opens while I’m riding by.

Any driver that sees me immediately realizes there is not enough space in the lane to pass me. Expectations are set.

When I become aware of a driver behind me I evaluate the situation. Can I safely move to the right to give the driver more space to pass? When can I safely move to the right to give the driver more space to pass?

When I can move right, I do move right.